Lingua Sounda Special
Locus Solus Bestia Official Live Report
21 May 2019
photos by 田中聖太郎写真事務所 (Seitaro Tanaka)
text by Okubo Yuka
On 25th and 26th May, BUCK-TICK’s Locus Solus Bestia (ロクス・ソルスの獣たち / Rokusu Sorusu no Kemonotachi) was held at Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Halls 9, 10, and 11 in Chiba. This was the first time that they were holding a solo event at Makuhari Messe.
Thus far, they have held other large-scale solo performances unrelated to specific works, like “THE DAY IN QUESTION” and the 12-yearly memorial “CLIMAX TOGETHER” and more. Those events have left their marks in legend but it can be said that this particular one, which was held over 2 days and saw an approximate 24,000 attendees, is a brand new monumental achievement comparable to events past.
Although this event is reminiscent of the imagery of the strange book, Locus Solus, from the 1910s, it was difficult to imagine what the content would turn out to be based on the title alone. It was said to be a mystery in itself, but what the audience gazed upon this stage was a never-before-seen version of BUCK-TICK.
Stage extensions were set up in three directions; left, right, and centre. A center stage set up at the end of a stage extension. Hologram performances. Marching through the audience to enter the hall. An acoustic set. The first performances of new songs and a setlist filled with rare tracks.
Stepping into a new phase after their 30th debut anniversary, they looked shy during the MC on the first day when they said, “Today, after 30 years, we tried challenging ourselves with a variety of things”. The audience was greatly excited by their new attempts. The elaborately planned stage production, the gorgeous yet dynamic lighting, and performances that captivate onlookers drew everyone into an unparalleled world during these two days at Makuhari Messe and this report will cover it all.
Day 1 – May 25th
Before the performance began, the hall was overflowing with anticipation for the yet-unseen stage. Eventually, the lights went out and the audience stood up in the dark, drawn into a dusky forest in the large circular screen set up in the centre of the stage. Before long, the scene transitions to a novel-like invention of a steampunk video and at that moment, the members stepped onto the stage. Toll Yagami’s (drums) count started what can be said to be the theme song of this event, “Kemonotachi no Yoru (獣たちの夜)”.
How do I describe the explosive power and exhilaration that was felt when the intro started? It was as if like my heart squeezed tight for a split second before the blood rushed through the vessels in my body all at once. I had been listening to the studio version before that but those expectations I had were far exceeded by the absolute power of this first performance which floored me. The imposing vocals of Atsushi Sakurai (vocals), who wore a costume which made it look as if he donned the skin of a black beast, has kicked off the commencement of this banquet of the beasts.
The first person to step out onto the centre stage extension was Hisashi Imai (guitar). He rocked the floor with his guitar solo which was largely noise in the studio version but had been rearranged for the live performance.
Following a cat-like, “myaaan” noise from Imai, they transitioned into the heavy dance beats of the cat song “GUSTAVE”. The audience cheered loudly every time the members went down the centre stage extension with Sakurai doing so during the intro and Imai, Hidehiko Hoshino (guitar), and Yutaka Higuchi (bass) during the interlude.
From here on, the audience, who have been receiving greetings from the beasts over those two songs, will now be dragged off into a dizzyingly nightmarish world.
“Oh~ Champs-Élysées. Oh~ Champs-Élysées.”
The echoes of this phrase uttered by Sakurai which sounded so devoid of joy led into “PHANTOM VOLTAIRE”. Following this song, the plucking of a phrase from Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes by Imai brought them into “Lullaby-Ⅲ”, where Higuchi swayed to the rumba rhythm that he played.
After these two decadent songs, they continued into “Shanikusai -Carnival- (謝肉祭 -カーニバル-)” with flames which swayed and rose on the screen in the background. The ephemeral melody and Sakurai’s falsetto made it a beautiful midtempo song, with the rousing strokes by Hoshino and Imai’s guitar noises coming in occasionally as if cutting through the air to stir up emotions.
That last performance where Sakurai covered his face with a Venetian mask left quite an impression.
Next, in “Kirameki no Naka de (キラメキの中で…)”, the story unfolded to the beat of Toll Yagami’s rhythm, where the intertwining of the suppressed emotions in Sakurai’s vocals with the melody of Swan Lake was indescribably dramatic. When the song ended, Sakurai flashed an icy smile in the dark.
And then, they proceeded into a song that they were about to play live for the first time in about 16 years; “Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり)”. Projected on the centre screen was Sakurai looking as if he was singing in a fish tank while displaying the twin-vocal interaction with Imai on stage. This inexplicable scene was beautifully surreal.
After that, as if countering the reverberations of that performance, they went right into the industrial rock track, “ICONOCLASM”. When the lyric “Japanese Babies” got changed into “Everybody” at the 2nd utterance, it roused cheers from the audience on the floor.
Following this was “Future Song -Mirai ga Tooru- (FUTURE SONG-未来が通る-) which resonated with Yagami’s tribal rhythm. Sakurai and Imai’s duet raises the voltage higher and higher, undulating from it to Higuchi’s bass riffs in the sublime intro of “BABEL”. Raising an arm as if through the heavens, kneeling as if crumbling and falling; their performance which embodied the song was a masterpiece.
After a quick “thank you very much”, the striking ring of bells and Imai’s effects-filled guitar noises rang out like ripples, leading in to “Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete (Moon さよならを教えて)”. The circular screen turned into a large moon, and they sang and played as if huddling up together. For a brief moment, it felt as if the air had been cleansed, but Hoshino’s sultry guitar intro once again brought back the dark atmosphere for “Misshitsu (密室)”.
Projected on the screen, Sakurai nailed the expressions of being tormented by a twisted love and right after this, a short break.
“Next, we’ll perform one more new song for the first time on this stage. Everyone, do look around for a few things.”
As if covering this MC, Imai played a tune from the theme song of GeGeGe no Kitaro and from the left, right, and centre of the floor, the violins of the intro of “RONDO” rang out. Just as it did, holograms of the band members appeared. When Sakurai said “do look around for a few things”, it was these holograms that he was referring to. While unintentionally distracted by it, this was also the day of RONDO’s first live performance. The melody and refrain of lyrics which are set to the tango-like rhythm created an illusory world in a rondeau of wandering round and around between dream and reality.
Just as it begins to feel as if we were being invited into dreamland, the tropical melody that Imai plays tosses us into yet another parallel world where the morning sun shines on the seashore. In “THE SEASIDE STORY”, the mermaid princess sings with a threatening tone a song of an unhesitating passionate love despite fate.
After that, the crowd cheered the moment the intro of the future pop track “BRAN-NEW LOVER”, which was being performed for the first time in a long while, began.
As he sang “Someday, we people will meet our farewell”, it felt as if this outlook of life and death was connected to their latest work, No.0.
After this came the last song for this main set. “Thank you very much. You have all been wonderful. Thank you,” said Sakurai, expressing his gratitude to the audience, after which reverberations of timpani led into the ending song, “DIABOLO”.
Imai strutted down the stage extension as he played his guitar solo while Sakurai sang with a top hat atop his head and a stick in his hand. It looked as if they were a circus troupe sallying forth towards the next city, leaving behind pomp and ephemerality and just a touch of melancholy.
The band left the stage, and the calls for an encore was a little more like a rippling. The reason for that was the acoustic set which had been prepared on the centre stage. The audience was beyond excited when the band headed towards that stage and that is because to get there, the members were walking through the audience, touching the hands which stretched out to them from both sides as they moved.
On stage, the band members sat around Sakurai as if surrounding him. This is a sight that has been seen with other bands, but for BUCK-TICK, setting up such an acoustic corner is a first for them. And above all, it’s rather rare that we get to see Yagami’s drumming posture from this position since he is always in his fixed position and never moved from it.
“Today, for a change, we’ll be giving this a shot,” said Sakurai, and following his words, they began their performance of the acoustic arrangement of the rock song, “Suzumebachi (スズメバチ)”.
“Imai-san has arranged a few songs for us. We’re facing our butts to everyone, but I’ll try my best to spin around as much as possible, so,” Sakurai said as he turned around on the small stage.
“BOY septem peccata mortalia”, which had a Spanish-sounding arrangement added to it, was a real thrill. While “Keijijou Ryuusei (形而上 流星)” started out with a beautiful arpeggio intro. The simple sound of its acoustic arrangement elevated the song and made it even more outstanding than before. I believe that this acoustic corner was akin to the band’s attempt at acquiring new weapons which will, in future, aid them in the expansion of the world of BUCK-TICK. When the band members left the centre stage, they walked down the opposite side from where they entered, towards stage right to leave the floor. This little gesture was yet another display of their considerate selves.
When the band returned to the stage once more, Imai wore a unicorn headgear on his head. The audience grew excited at the sight of the item which he previously wore during the 1996 CHAOS tour and 2009 memento mori tour.
The hall went dark and what started was “Ai no Uta (愛ノ歌)”. It has been 16 years since this song was last played in the 2003 album tour for “Mona Lisa OVERDRIVE”. Riding on the heavy, bone-resonating rhythm provided by the rhythm brothers, the figure who sang loudly of love in the deep red illumination was a truly dignified one.
The next song that they played was “Sakura (さくら)”.
It appears that this midtempo number, which was filled with Sakurai’s personal thoughts from back then, has refined over time. At least, that was how I felt as I watched the performance under the sakura confetti which danced and fluttered down from all around.
Following the band members’ introduction, Sakurai spoke of his feelings towards this performance. “After 30 years, we’ve challenged ourselves with a variety of things today. A big thank you to all the staff who worked overnight to put this stage together. And above all, a big thank you to everyone who came all the way down to Makuhari in this heat for us.”
Closing off this special performance was “HEAVEN”. When I saw the two sets of stairs on stage connecting to the stairs leading into the heavens on screen, it felt as if it could be interpreted that the “beasts of Locus Solus” were in fact inhabitants of the skies. That is because, like the line “we scream, we laugh, we love, we fall in love”, this “HEAVEN” resonates with a warmth that loves and cherishes the workings of these beings.
“See you again, our wonderful fans,” he bade as he applauded the audience. And with that, the band members departed from the stage.
Day 2 – May 26th
Just like the first day, the second day opened with “Kemonotachi no Yoru (Night of the Beasts / 獣たちの夜)” and “GUSTAVE”, pumping up the audience all at once.
Loud cheers filled the hall as the band members strutted down the stage extensions. During “PHANTOM VOLTAIRE”, Sakurai’s laughter at the end of the song brought tension into the air.
“Welcome, welcome. Come, let’s start the party. Ladies & Gentlemen, Welcome, Welcome, Welcome*”.
From the dramatic greeting began “Lullaby-Ⅲ”. Continuing, this day’s “Shanikusai -Carnival- (謝肉祭−カーニバル−)” saw Sakurai putting the same mask on the mic stand and kissing it, giving the song an ending with a lasting impression. Following a rendition of “Swan Lake” which was played with an organ-like sound from the guitar synthesiser was “Kirameki no Naka de (キラメキの中で…)” and the audience steadily fell deeper and deeper into a deviant world.
In “Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari (相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマリがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり)”, newly rearranged together with a jungle beat worked in, the contrast between the sight of Sakurai’s phantasmagorical singing on the screen and Imai putting up his middle finger as he sang on stage was amusing.
When Sakurai returned to the stage, they performed iron-plated live song “ICONOCLASM” followed by the noisy digital rock song “Thanatos (タナトス)”. After dominating the floor with the intensity of a masterpiece “BABEL”, Sakurai went to the top of the staircase to the right of the circular screen and Imai sat on the left side staircase before beginning to play “Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete (Moon さよならを教えて)”. This worldview was then handed over to “Tight Rope”. In recent years, they have often chosen to play the rearranged version from 2007, but this time, they decided to play the original 1996 version of the song, a first in many years as Sakurai slowly walked down the stage extension, pantomiming the crossing of a tightrope.
Next, with acoustics coming from both sides and the hologram performance, “RONDO” was enjoyed both aurally and visually in a three-dimensional experience. Just as “THE SEASIDE STORY” and “BRAN-NEW LOVER” ramped up the euphoria, Yagami’s rhythm signalling the finale of the show rang out loudly, welcoming a spectacular end to the revelry of dreams with “DIABOLO”.
The encore was the same as the first day’s where the band members made their way through the audience to get to the acoustic set that was set up on the centre stage.
“To those in the back, thank you (for coming). This is the furthest we can go,” Sakurai said, showing his consideration towards the audience on this day as well.
“We felt that (it would be nice) if you could feel yet another different side of BUCK-TICK. So please listen to these few songs that have been transformed by Imai-san’s re-arrangement,” said Sakurai, thus starting the segment and leading into the performance of the acoustic arrangements of the three songs “Suzumebachi (スズメバチ)”, “BOY septem peccata mortalia”, and “Keijijou Ryuusei (形而上 流星)”.
Aside from the freshness that was brought by their first attempt at an acoustic corner, the other noteworthy thing about it was the peculiar arrangements. Till now, BUCK-TICK has always presented an electronica-infused band sound and by giving those songs of theirs a simple acoustic sound made the qualities of their melodies even more distinct.
In addition to that, the sounding of noises in the background of the music that the five of them played was so uniquely BUCK-TICK. The uptempo beats, “Suzumebachi” and “BOY septem peccata mortalia” which livened up previous stages had a secretive, closed-room ambience added to them, making them even sexier, while “Keijijou Ryuusei”, composed of simple sounds, resonated ever clearer in my chest.
The resurrection of songs which have not been performed for over 10 years, like “Aikawarazu no～” and “Carnival”, for the main portion of the show was also deeply memorable. The selection of songs for the first half of these two days’ performances was dark, but it definitely didn’t leave a heavy impression and that may very well be thanks to the three songs that were performed in the second encore; “Ai no Uta (愛ノ歌)”, “Sakura (さくら)”, and “HEAVEN”.
The approach of these three songs are certainly different in their own respective ways, but all of them were love songs. Looking at it all again from this perspective, it can be said that just about all the songs that they performed this time around were songs about the different forms of love. Perhaps this event itself might just be a message from BUCK-TICK telling their fans “We love you”.
“Everyone, I wish happiness, happiness, and more happiness.” (Sakurai)
While hoping for the happiness of the people, the curtains descended on the two love and euphoria-filled days.
So, what was this “Locus Solus Bestia” that sent the audience into such exhilaration over two days?
Just as how “Locus Solus” is defined as “secluded location”, I believe that this is a place that can only be reached by BUCK-TICK, a band which doesn’t belong in any particular place and has continued to reign the rock scene with an existence unlike any other.
After the final performance, the music of “THEME OF B-T” reverberated through the hall as a film digest of the first day’s performance was projected, followed by the announcement of “THE DAY IN QUESTION 2019”.
It begins on Tuesday, 3 December at the Grand Theatre of Gunma’s Takasaki Arts Theatre and brings a total of 5 performances which ends with a finale on Sunday, 29 December at Gymnasium 1 of Tokyo’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Also, during the MC in the encore, Sakurai said, “We’ve welcomed our 30th year and everyone has celebrated with us, then comes our 31st…… Well, it’s a long time, isn’t it? But we’re motivated to create something wonderful again next because everyone (the fans) enjoys it.”
As long as this is how they present the future, I don’t think we’ll be waking up from the dream that is BUCK-TICK any time soon.
* Italicised for emphasis that English was used.